The Lesotho Sky Stage 6, Semonkong Loop:

I was highly optimistic for today as I knew that I could only feel better from this point on. I was chipper, happy as a pig in mud in this awesome environment and surprisingly relaxed. However, one image during the race briefing hit me so hard in the gut that I went ice cold and left me sat in stunned silence. It never crossed my mind that the weather could turn bad again. I was caught off guard and became upset with myself for not thinking that this could happen. I was entirely unprepared for rain and eight degrees Celsius, let alone another mud debacle.

By ten o’clock it started raining and it did not abate until mid-afternoon. “Just do your job and get through the next two hours” is all I repeated to myself. I did not allow myself to smile or frown as emotion had no room in this space.

The stage was wet, slippery, misty, windy, cold and demanded every ounce of whatever made each rider see this through. As ludicrous as this sounds, we could count ourselves as fortunate as there were riders who were unable to start because they had fallen terribly ill. It is gut wrenching.

Riding in conditions that are this extreme affords one the opportunity to pull out a great deal of courage and determination if there is a strong enough desire. Strengths that are only earned the hard way and that have indescribable positive impact on a person. The other falls in the skills department. Slippery conditions are not the norm so sticking to taking it on and pushing the limits results in vast improvement. Based on only these two aspects, the day was a big success.

Grant and I rode in fourth position for three quarters of the race but surprised ourselves by catching up to the leading bunch towards the end and crossed the finish line together with overwhelming relief, immense satisfaction and a sense of great pride.

The Lesotho Sky was an incredible experience and so unique that it will always stand alone as a special event we were fortunate to be a part of. This country has awe inspiring majesty, magic and is undoubtedly a mountain biker’s ride of passage.

These fantastic mages are by Wayne Reiche.